Oh, what a night: champagne upon arrival, a bubbling hot tub in the garden bar and great live music, all set within the urban-chic surrounds of Proud Camden. Like any atmospheric event, the venue, music and environ contribute only part of the magic; the concoction of people a vital contributor. And what a vibrant mix of forward-thinking entrepreneurs, thought leaders and cultural provocateurs there were at last week’s launch party of the UK’s B-Corps (Benefit Corporations). This cohort of companies join a fast-growing global community of more than 1,400 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and 130 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
Bart Houlahan, the founder of B-Labs (a non-profit focused on making for-profit businesses a force for good in the world) spoke passionately about how capitalism is transforming in front of our very eyes, and how being a B-Corp is not just about changing the organisation’s legal constitution from a focus on shareholders to serving all stakeholders, including society and the environment. It is about being part of a community of like-minded, life-serving innovators: business people who seek to create real value for present and future generations. This kindred-spirited community provides a nurturing space for sharing stories, experiences and learnings across sectors and sizes (by example Ben & Jerry’s, Method, Patagonia, Etsy, Seventh Generation, Swarm, The Big Issue and Volans are all certified B-Corps). Such a forward-thinking community is prototyping the future while dealing with the challenges of the day, ensuring our organizations do not simply survive the volatile seas ahead but thrive, going beyond merely limiting negative impact toward regenerative business enhancing the fabric of life. This is not utopian pipe-dream talk; it’s the practical reality of people rolling-up their sleeves as they manifest soul-dreams today.
Alluring as it was to be caught up in the electric excitement of this launch party, many of us shared with our compatriots on the night how this movement, and others like it, is symptomatic of something deep and profound emerging within us, our teams, our organizations, our communities: an emancipation of our innate human potential from the imprisonment of yesterday’s logic (the logic of trade-offs, of take-make-waste linearity, of Social Darwinist separateness and dog-eat-dog competition). Forward-thinking folk know only too well the carcinogenic corrosiveness of narrowly focusing on shareholder value, short-term profit maximisation, dominate-or-be-dominated dictums and self-serving strategies. And so, at one level, this B-Corp amendment of corporate constitution is simply good business sense getting the better of our individualistic insanity.
John Elkington (founder of Volans and the originator of the triple-bottom-line concept back in 1994) points out that capitalism must now transform its out-dated mind-sets, metrics and measures in order to adapt to future landscapes now drawing near. In the same breath, this shift afoot speaks to something quite beyond anything the metricizing mind is capable of capitalizing. The very dominance of the metricizing mind a hallmark of yesterday’s logic, not that of our emerging future. Yes we need holistic metrics, yet what is emerging here is quite beyond metrics.
Breakfast seminars, think tanks, conferences, research papers, expert roundtables and evening launch parties espouse ‘hot topics’ (purposeful business, managing complexity, CSR, climate change, the Millennial Age, wellbeing at work, regenerative economics, conscious leadership, and so on). These ‘hot topics’ are not disparate issues competing for our attention; they are all symptoms of a shift in our organizing logic and underlying worldview, a metamorphosis which calls forth a deeper perception of how we relate with ourselves, each other and the very fabric of life. So often, fighting through our frenetic schedules, we miss the forest for the trees; we narrow-in on the fragments and symptoms while overlooking the inter-relational profundity of these paradigmic times. Our very ideologies underpinning how we operate and organize are being replaced; our sense of place and purpose in the world is being challenged at deep and partly unconscious levels, testing and challenging us while emancipating and evolving us toward richer and wiser outcomes.
Put simply, the old worldview has had its day, no longer capable of dealing with the challenges and dynamisms now upon us; a new one is being born amid its breakdown. The future of business is our waking up to the reality that our organizations are living, emergent systems immersed within our living, emergent social systems immersed within the emergent inter-relationality of our more-than-human world. Firms of the future flourish in these volatile times by embracing unceasing transformation while remaining true to what it really means to be human. The more aligned we become to our true nature, and to the true nature of life, the more we consciously allow our naturally creative, heartfelt, soulful, passionate and compassionate ways of organizing and operating to take root in our organizations. This is the birthing of a new evolutionary stage of human consciousness no less. What an exciting time to be engaged the future of business.
Thought leader, author and adviser Giles Hutchins is co-hosting a unique collective inquiry into Good Business at Schumacher College, UK on 2nd-6th November.
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Five o’clock in the morning and the sky’s already an awesome array of vibrant pinks, oranges and mellow yellows. Rainbow-tinted fluffy clouds gently clearing away to reveal what becomes a gloriously hot English summer’s day. Next to me as I sit amid mammoth trees in the beautiful grounds of Ashridge Business School is a young female deer, both of us entranced by each other’s glance.
By 8.30am a gaggle of eighteen intrepid and experienced participants settle in the comfortable surrounds of the lounge for light refreshments. A diverse cohort of corporate pioneers and cultural creatives are quick to form a tribe of kindred spirits, sharing and exploring with humility and courage on our mini-quest; blending heady business content and shared experiences with soulful, somatic exercises.
‘A workshop full of insight and wisdom delivered in such a concise and accessible way’ – participant feedback
What were the objectives and intended outcomes of this workshop? Our intention was to reach beyond the symptomatic surface into the deeper metamorphosis underway in our ways of operating and organising; to hold a space for an artful inquiry into ways of being and doing that aid the transformation of our organisations from firms of the past (top-down, hierarchic, command-and-control, silo’ed, KPI-obsessed, monolithic monocultures) to firms of the future (living, emergent, diverse, networked, anti-fragile, locally-attuned, soulful organisations). For this the context and content of the workshop formed around playing with the tensions of inner-outer and being-doing.
‘Fascinating subject with a good balance of theory and bodywork’ – participant feedback
The inner dimension explored our personal transformations, the challenges, experiences and practices of opening ourselves up to deeper ways of being and doing in the workplace. The outer dimension explored the relational challenges and tensions of transforming the cultural mind-set from firm-of-the-past logic (take-make-waste linearity, short-termism, control-based ego-dominator approaches) to more self-organising, empowering, embodied, eco-systemic spiritually-aware partnership approaches required by firms of the future. It is here that we sense how future-fit organisations cannot just be materially and functionally inspired by Nature (enter biomimetic design, cradle-to-cradle, closed-loop economics, industrial ecology and so forth) but also need to be resonant with the metaphysical rhythms and wisdom Nature affords us (enter eco-psychology, somatic awareness, eco-systemic presencing, heart entrainment, phenomenology, shamanic business, conscious leadership and the re-cognition and re-membering of our soulful sense of place and purpose in a deeply sentient world).
This artful inquiry revealed the need for a shift not just in ways of relating and doing but also in our underlying mythological and philosophical worldview, a shift at deep and partly unconscious levels in how we ‘prehend’ (to use Alfred North Whitehead’s term), how we intuit and perceive ourselves, each other and the more-than-human world. Examples and insights were drawn from the books The Nature of Business (which explores firms of the future as businesses inspired by Nature) and The Illusion of Separation (which explores the philosophical and metaphysical implications of this metamorphosis as we step towards a deeper ecology of business).
‘Such a powerful, lovely and deeply wise workshop’ – participant feedback
Clearly there is only so much one can explore in a 9am-3.30pm window while seeking to balance ways of being and doing, inner and outer exploration, participant sharing and networking with concepts, frameworks and tools. If we were to run something similar again we would do things differently, not least finish at 5.30pm or even invite people to join us the evening before. And we were blessed on this magical day with outstanding weather, beautiful surrounds and a wonderful cohort consciously willing to engage open heartedly in a smorgasbord of activities.
What got this all started was a long and energising walk across Dartmoor in the spring haze and April showers with Chris Nichols of Ashridge, to whom I am indebted. During my time at Ashridge I sensed a business school that really ‘gets it’ when it comes to understanding the importance of education rooted in artful inquiry, action research and holistic ways of knowing, exploring beyond the superficial and silo’ed regurgitation of yesterday’s logic. And since that summer’s day I have regularly recommended and referred to the good work of Ashridge, for instance in this recently published Opinion Paper on Redefining the Nature of Business in the Millennial Age.
It was a great honour to explore and share with consciously-aware participants and to work with the talented facilitators Debbie Warrener and Daniel Ludevig as well as case study presenter Chris Randall of Heart-in-Business, not to mention Chris Nichols and Vicki Brown of Ashridge whose support behind the scenes and on the day helped it all sing.
Giles Hutchins and Chris Nichols, amongst others, are running a residential short course at Schumacher College, Dartington Hall on Good Business on 2nd-6th November, you can book here.
Giles Hutchins is a recognised thought leader, speaker and adviser, applying twenty years of experience to his work at individual and organisational levels. He blogs at www.thenatureofbusiness.org and is author of the books The Nature of Business and The Illusion of Separation.
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There are a multitude of factors contributing to these winds of change blowing through our times. Describing these turbulent, transformative times is the now trendy managerial acronym VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous) – in short, business-as-usual (‘BAU’) is no longer an option for organisations wishing to flourish in 2020 and beyond.
Conferences, think-tanks, research papers, workshops, forums and expert roundtables across the globe are exploring the implications these shifts have on how we operate and organise. Yet, through our well-intended desire to find solutions to our pressing problems, we all-too-often find ourselves caught up in the very mind-set that contributed to them in the first place. We address our sea of challenges at face-value and in silo’ed superficial ways, skimming over the deeper inter-relational corruptions these problems are symptomatic of.
By example, let’s take a look at the following 4 ‘symptoms’:
- Sustainability/CSR: on the surface, this is about being more efficient, effective, responsible and future-fit in a volatile world of finite resources precariously pressed up against natural limits. And so we embrace ‘new ways of doing’ such as industrial ecology, circular economics, biomimicry, green chemistry and so forth, all within the frame and focus of CSR or responsible business programmes. At a deeper level, this is challenging our prevalent mechanistic and anthropocentric logic. It is revealing the need for a shift from ‘take-make-waste’ linearity to ‘regenerative’ holistic approaches. This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: In what context are we creating and delivering value? Can we move beyond merely reducing negative impact into becoming regenerative? To whom or what are we in service of? Why are we here? With this, begins a deeper philosophical (yet no less practical) inquiry into our sense of place and purpose within the fabric of Life.
- Mindfulness/Wellbeing-at-work: on the surface, this is about stress reduction and morale improvement, and about being healthier mentally and emotionally, being more creative, resourceful and resilient, so that we become future-fit at the individual, team and organisational dimensions. And so we embrace ‘new ways of being’ such as meditation, deep listening, non-violent communication, somatic awareness, contemplative practices, presencing and so forth all within the frame and focus of mindfulness-in-the-workplace programmes. At a deeper level, this is challenging our acculturated perspective of self-agency rooted in yesterday’s logic of separateness, control and competition. It is revealing the need for a shift from an overly extractive and domineering yang ‘ego-awareness’ to a more balanced and inclusive yin-yang ‘eco-awareness’ (eco = ‘ecological’ also ‘ecosystem’: whereas ‘ego-awareness’ brings a heightened sense of ‘self’ as separate from and in competition with neighbourhood, ‘eco-awareness’ opens our perception up to the deeper ‘inter-being’ of our neighbourhood and with it a more empathic and ecosystemic relation.) This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my soul-calling? With this comes a deeper philosophical shift away from an essentially competition-orientated, individualistic worldview towards a quest for understanding and harmonising with the deeper somatic, social and spiritual rhythms of Life.
- The Millennial Age: (see this hot-of-the-press report here on Redesigning The Nature of Business for the Millennial Age ) on the surface, this is about applying social media, creative commons and open source approaches in order to be more social, creative, passionate and collaborative in our workplaces. At a deeper level, this points to personal and collective emancipation from economic enslavement towards meaningful work, authenticity and freedom. It is revealing a shift from a control-based hierarchical logic to a more partnership-based one. This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: What are my gifts and what do I most deeply love? How can I bring the best of myself – playful passions, quirks and all – into the workplace? Can my worktime actually be a joyful artful enquiry, a playtime that enhances my own growth and development while serving life? With this comes a deeper philosophical shift away from the economics of ‘work-life balance’ to immersing oneself in a community of shared passion and purpose. ( see this report here for more on this)
- Purposeful Business: at a superficial level this is about fostering and communicating, internally across the organisation and externally through public relations, a shared sense of value and ethics in the workplace beyond short-term profit maximisation. At a deeper level, this trend points to an underlying need in each and every-one of us to take part in something that touches our heart-and-soul with meaning beyond the mere materiality of life. It is revealing the need for a shift from an overly materialistic logic to a more soulful sense of contributing to something greater. This shift prompts us to ask the deeper questions of: How do I wish to live my life? What values and behaviours do I wish to embody? How does the organisation I am working for enhance my humanity and deeper sense of purpose? With this comes a deeper philosophical shift away from ‘work for works sake’ to heartfelt, artful and purposeful work that enhances our humanity.
In other words, these winds of change are ushering in a shift in consciousness with profound consequences for our humanity.
A Metamorphosis In Our Midst
In the early stages of a pupa’s metamorphosis, cells quite different from the caterpillar organise into groups. These ‘imaginal cells’ run up against the opposition of the old caterpillar’s immune system, which perceives them as a threat to the caterpillar’s existence. Over time, as the system of the old caterpillar begins to break down, these new formations spawn forth the structures, processes and logic of the butterfly; ditto for the metamorphosis in our midst.
‘In times of great winds, some build bunkers, others build windmills’ Chinese proverb
As we begin to embark on this deeper quest of our humanity, we may begin to realise that what prevents us from fully realising our potential – and from fully loving ourselves, each other and our more-than-human world – is our own habituated, acculturated, constricting, narrowing-down perspectives that hold us, imprison us, in an illusion of separation. To break out of this illusion of our own creation, a shift in consciousness is all we need, a subtle and simple shift in how we perceive ourselves in this deeply wise and sacred world.
It is with this simple – yet not necessarily easy – shift in awareness that we begin to realise our true nature and embark on the quest of becoming human.
‘Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness the catastrophe towards which the world is headed will be unavoidable’ Vaclav Havel, Czech prime minister addressing US Congress
Becoming human in a firm of the future is about a twofold shift: 1) personal gnosis 2) organisational gnosis. For the ancient Greeks, gnosis meant an embodied knowing, a transformation in which we know who we truly are, awakening to our true nature beyond artifice and illusion.
‘Understanding the illusion only comes after the understanding of reality, not before…Until we have the experience of reality, in all its stillness, we are still lost.’
Peter Kingsley, contemporary philosopher and mystic
This is what these transformational times ask of us; whether we are accountants or activists, engineers or entrepreneurs, musicians or midwives, these winds of change are signalling a metamorphosis within ourselves, our organisations and our societies. It’s time to begin our quest and dive below superficial materiality and swim the wild yet wise, synchronistic soulful currents of grace.
‘In the wild waters of the world, the fish does not go under. It is in its element. Amidst the unpredictable it swims in grace.’ Catherine Keller, professor of constructive theology
In 1984 E.O.Wilson’s ‘biophilia hypothesis’ brought the West’s scientific attention to the psychical, as well as physical, inter-relation we have with Nature: humans have a deep urge to love our fellow kinship and natural neighbourhood.
Since then there have been numerous studies pointing to the deleterious effect our sense of separation from Nature has on us, along with the regenerative effect Nature has on our ability to flourish in wholesome ways. Western science is on the cusp of the dawning realisation that our sense of separation from Nature creates dis-ease causing a great number of the problems littering our culture today.
‘The modern condition of soiling our nest reflects how we’ve become dissociated from our somas, our communities, and the Earth itself. This has become a pathological condition so widespread that we think of it as normal…When we feel ourselves as part of Nature we invoke a vast intelligence that is both deeply spacious and deliriously ecstatic. When we tie in with the life force it rights us from our distractions and reconnects us to the rapture of life.’ Richard Strozzi-Heckler.
This sense of separation from Nature is what the anthropologist Gregory Bateson referred to as an ‘original corruption’ setting us up for an evolutionary cul-de-sac of selfish ascendance. It fuels hubris, he says, whereupon common sense becomes insanity.
Learning how to open up to our essential nature and to our deeper Nature within and all around us is the most radical of undertakings for our evolution as flourishing beings.
Wisdom traditions the world over have long understood Nature’s wisdom (using different names for this Pleroma: Sophia, Akasha, Divine Ground, Aluna, Shekinah, Tao, Indra’s Net). It is the same phenomenon that quantum physicists are now grappling to comprehend in exploring the existence of an all-pervasive potent presence; an intangible formlessness which gives birth to energy and form; they call it the quantum vaccum, zero-point energy field or dark energy and it pervades everything, nothing is separate from it.
The Kogi – an indigenous tribe of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – are an ancient society upholding the sacred wisdom of Nature which, for them is a sacred embodiment of Aluna – the Great Mother that gives birth to and nurtures the entire Cosmos, and ourselves within it. The embodiment of Aluna is central to their sense of place and purpose in this world. They wish to re-mind us of the grave danger we face in not honouring this wisdom of life.
For the Kogi – along with other shamanic cultures and ancient wisdom traditions the world over – the Mind of Nature (Aluna) is a deeply wise matrix, a cosmic womb or collective archetypal field from which creative energy spawns forth in a process of unfolding evolution. Each moment is an unfolding participatory dance of our conscious awareness co-creating within this Cosmic Intellect. To resonate with the innate rhythms, patterns, tensions and harmonies within and all around us, is to become conscious expressions of this Nature whereupon our sense of place and purpose in this life can be heard in our hearts. To be unaware of, or de-sensitised, to this wisdom is to allow ourselves to become out-of-tune and adrift from this deeper resonance. With this dis-ease we fall prey to polluting thoughts, emotions and belief-patterns, and find ourselves caught up in the contagion of consumerism now plaguing us. For the Kogi, re-membering this rhythm of Nature is the beginning of righting ourselves and our societies.
All our actions and interactions are immersed within this sentient sea of sacredness and to bring this awareness into our everyday understanding of life is to awaken the sacred within and all around us; a dawning of our destiny as Homo sapiens – wise beings. This is the ‘Great Turning’ from our current carcinogenetic culture to one that flourishes in harmony with life.
From as early as I can recall, I have always sensed this ‘ground of being’ from which everything in life is immersed and nourished. While the ‘life feeds on life’ reality I see all around and within me often perplexes me, there is never a doubt that I am ‘biophilically’ in love with life, in awe of its unfathomable beauty, enchanted by its wisdom, perplexed by its paradoxes. On occasions my everyday consciousness is enriched, if for the briefest of moments, by this wisdom in our midst. I know that what prevents me from fully living and fully loving are my own ingrained habituations and acculturations picked up from living in this carcinogenic culture. And I know it is nothing but my quality of attention and intention that can emancipate my mind-set from this acculturation.
Whether we choose to believe in Aluna or not is not the question here. This question is: Do you fancy living in a culture that enhances our greatness or undermines it; a culture that teaches us to love life or vandalise it; a culture that celebrates or denigrates our sense of place and purpose in this world?
We do not need to impose another ideology or set of beliefs onto reality. Instead, we need to hold space for opening our attention individually and collectively – this way we can allow the truth to emerge from our souls. There is no better time and place than the situation we find ourselves in for us to open our hearts and minds to Nature, to humbly listen to rather than hubristically seeking domination and control over Her. The call of Aluna is here and the metamorphosis is in our midst.
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Linear thinking and its rationalising objectification provides an important tool for us, helping us abstract our thinking from the here-and-now for analysis, planning, forecasting, scientific empirical examination and material exploitation. This thinking has helped us construct our civilizations. No problem, unless this way of attending begins to dominate and so crowds out our other ways of knowing (sensing, feeling, embodying, intuiting).
The ‘thinking tool’ has a grasping tendency that, if left unchecked, usurps our attention to such an extent that we lose touch of the deeper wisdom within and all around us – we perceive only the abstractions of our analysing mind, missing the wood for the trees.
‘We have created a sufficiently strong propensity not only to make divisions in knowledge where there are none in Nature, and then to impose the divisions on Nature, making the reality thus comfortable to the idea, but to go further, and to convert the generalisations made from observation into positive entities, permitting for the future these artificial creations to tyrannise over the understanding.’ Henry Maudsley
With this come out-of-kilter perspectives that bring us out of conscious attunement with life’s rhythms and wisdom. We begin to find it harder to align with our deeper sense of self-other-Nature. And so our relations warp from the inherently empathic, biophilic, compassionate nature of Homo sapiens into portraying only the self-absorbing egotistic-traits of selfishness, greed, competition and narcissism. So caught up in our own self-reflexive ego-chattering illusions we become, that we increasingly numb ourselves from embodying the deeper intrinsic inter-relational reality of life.
Alas, this is what is happening on a global scale with deleterious consequences for all life on Earth. Any meaningful transition towards a more sustainable and civilized future for humanity needed to involve our re-membering a more balanced way of attending to life: yin/yang, receptive/responsive, open/closed, flowing/specific, dynamic/objectified, presencing/abstract, intuitive/rational, feminine/masculine, and so forth.
‘The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind its faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift’. Albert Einstein
This re-balancing allows us to contribute to a rebalancing in our organisations, communities, socio-economics and ways of governing.
There are a great variety of ways to enhance a more balanced yin-yang, receptive-responsive awareness in our lives. For example: bringing more stillness into our busy minds by sitting quieting, feeling the space between our heart-beats, feeling the in and out breath in our nostrils, meditating, chanting, drawing, playing a musical instrument, dancing, reading or writing poetry, practicing somatic awareness, yoga, Qi Kong, T’ai Chi, etc. And there are ways to bring this more embodied awareness into the workplace too – hence the work on Steps Towards a Deeper Ecology of Business we explored recently at Ashridge Business School.
For me, I like immersing myself in the natural world, finding stillness within the movements of Nature, along with some gentle T’ai Chi and yoga movements. The more I develop this deeper sense of presence the more noticeable it is when my rationalising, abstracting and often distracting ego monkey-mind interferes and so the more conscious I can be in allowing my rational mind to serve as a useful tool rather than trying to dominate.
Feeling the creative energy within my bodymind helps me re-member that I (like all expression of Nature) am energy. This energetic presence within (and all around me) is receptive and responsive. I can enhance this receptivity and responsiveness by attuning my bodymind through developing what is often referred to as ‘heart-awareness’ due to our bodyminds finding their centre-of-awareness in the heart area.
The Heart – A Powerful Organ of Perception
Much research has been undertaken into the heart as an organ of perception (along with the gut and brain, also increasing scientific recognition that each and every cell in our bodies contains mind-matter aspects with capacity for sentience and memory). The heart is the body’s most powerful electromagnetic sensor and transmitter, continually decoding the vast array of electromagnetic and quantum signals radiating in our lived-in environment. 65% of the cells in the heart are neural cells which are wired into the nervous system, gut and brain.
The heart governs our bodymind’s sensory, neural, nervous and instinctual systems. There is now scientific evidence pointing to the heart perceiving and decoding intuitive information from our surrounds first and foremost (‘direct perception’) and then updating the brain and gut, which then respond to this information – hence, intuitive feelings, premonitions and also ESP phenomena are detected through the direct perception of the heart (see one such scientific study here).
While much of this continual and participatory dialogue with the world around us happens beyond the perceptual horizon of our conscious awareness, as we develop ‘heart-awareness’ we can allow ourselves to become more conscious of this deeper way of knowing. And with this comes a richer sense of perceiving subtle fluctuations in our bodymind’s capacity for knowing – our ‘somatic awareness’ which embodiment activities aim to enhance. Developing heart-awareness, therefore, enriches our intuitive mind and also enriches our embodied ways of sensing and responding with the world around and within us.
Studies have proven that becoming more conscious of our heart-awareness has healing effects on our bodymind: invoking feelings of love through our hearts can shift us from a state of dis-ease towards wellbeing, with hormonal changes and alterations in our brain-wave patterns (alpha, beta, gamma frequencies). As we become more practiced at developing heart-awareness, we can develop what is called ‘heart entrainment’, where our brain-wave patterns become coherent across our left and right brain hemispheres and also entraining within our heart and gut centres. With this comes the immediate benefits of heightened mental clarity, improved decision making, increased responsiveness and resiliency to changes, efficiency of energy use, increased creativity and innovation, along with improved emotions of general happiness, empathy, compassion and conviviality – all important contributors in shifting our organisations towards more resilient, purposeful, joyous firms of the future!
The following heart-entrainment exercise is a simple yet powerful way to ignite this foundation for living with love. This practice requires no credit card only our quality of intention and attention.
Heart Entrainment Exercise (based on The HeartMath Institute, see their quick coherence technique here):
Step 1 – Heart-breathing: focus your attention on the heart. Place your hands upon your heart and use your imagination to feel yourself inhaling and exhaling in and out through the heart, and through your hands on your heart. Spend a few moments heart breathing in and out through the heart area; taking deeper breaths as you relax. This helps shift attention from busy mental chatter into the heart area.
Step 2 – Activate a loving feeling: by remembering a loving memory, perhaps a special place or pet you once had or have, or something you love doing, like listening to a favourite song or the feeling you have when immersed in your favourite hobby, or making love. Use your imagination to conjure up this feeling of love within your heart area, while continuing to undertake the heart-breathing in Step 1. And then allow this loving feeling to wash over your whole body.
Step 3 – While breathing deeply and allowing this loving feeling to fill your entire bodymind, repeat a simple affirmation over and over atleast five times in your mind, or whispering with your lips, or out loud if your situation allows. As long as the affirmation is love-based, it will help shift psychological blocks within you and allow you to open up to deeper heart entrainment. A simple affirmation could be ‘I am able to fully love myself’. After all, we struggle to ‘love thy neighbour’ when we are unable to fully ‘love thy self’, the two are interdependent on each other, and so loving ourselves and opening up to love is vital in shifting our way of relating from fear/control/separation to compassion/nurturing/inter-being.
The Heart-in-Business activities of Thornton’s Budgets in Belsize Park is a good example of bringing this heart-based, soulful awareness into the workplace with profound benefits.
This ‘power of love’ is ‘radical sustainability’ because it goes to the root cause of our unsustainable way of behaving by shifting how we attend to life: from separation to synchronicity, from power over to power with, from ego to ecological/inter-relational. From this foundation an attitude of criticism and condemnation transforms into one of nurturing and encouraging. Our enthusiasm for life becomes infectious.
Compassion can be understood as the active principle which fuels our empathic resonance through love, in-so-doing nourishing and nurturing others. The more we give with love, the more we receive with love.
By consciously opening our doors of perception beyond the narrow-mindedness of rationalistic, anthropocentric materialism we learn to reconnect with the wisdom within and all around us, in-so-doing we gain a deeper sense of intimacy, love and meaning in our lives. This is the beginning of our future, unfettered by yesterday’s logic of separation, competition and domination.
Radical Activism: Activating the power of love; shifting our awareness of the everyday moments: this is the front-line in our transformation towards a sustainable future. Now, more than ever, we need to re-member the profound logic of the heart.
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‘In times of turmoil, the danger lies not in the turmoil, but in facing it with yesterday’s logic’ – Peter Drucker
Yesterday’s logic is founded upon the illusion of separation created by the objectify lens of Western rationalistic science. It is a logic that sets humans apart from each other and from the rest of nature within a world viewed through the lens of competition. The unit of evolution is understood as the selfish gene competing with its environment for the preservation of favored races in the struggle for survival.
The story of mind exiled from Nature is the story of Western Man’ -Ted Hughes
This way of thinking underpins today’s business mind-set where competitive advantage is viewed as the Holy Grail. It is this very logic that is at the heart of all our crises – world poverty, climate change, biodiversity loss, social inequality, etc. And yet many of today’s sustainable business solutions apply this flawed logic without stepping back to question it. If we have any hope of rectifying the error of our ways, this logic needs to be put right at its root otherwise all we can hope for is merely delaying the inevitable endgame through efficiency tweaks to an inherently carcinogenic modus operandi.
‘Our sense of separation from Nature corrupts us, it fuels an arrogance, a hubris, whereupon common sense becomes insanity.’ -Gregory Bateson
Many have said before that sustainable business is like slowing a bus down that is heading in the wrong direction. Applying the brakes and fitting catalytic converters is a useful first step in getting our act together. Now the time is ripe for embarking on the right road – a radically new logic that transcends this sense of separation.
Transcending the Illusion of Separation
All the time new findings bring fresh perspectives on the driving forces inherent within life. Far from the genome being a rigid set of building blocks and innately selfish we realize it is a fluid system of dynamic localities that evolve by inter-playing with its environment. We recognize that evolution is essentially co-creative, fluid and connective. Rather than organisms struggling for survival they thrive through dynamic relationship. ‘To be’ does not mean ‘to be in competition’ (what C.S. Lewis referred to as ‘the philosophy of Hell’) it means ‘to be participating within the co-creativity of life’.
Biologist Lynn Margulis has extensively studied cell behavior and contends that cooperation, interplay and mutual dependence among life forms are what allow for the global expression of life we see around us. She notes, ‘Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.’ Far from life being driven by competitive struggle it cooperates to form richer environments for life to further evolve.
The scientific convenience of isolating complexities into neatly packaged definitions for us to get our heads around has led to a flawed logic which we then project on to our societies and economies. Darwin’s definition of the organism as separate from its environment is what the anthropologist and systems theorist Gregory Bateson saw as the basic flaw which corrupts the thinking that flows from it, as for him the interplay of the organism with its environment is paramount to its health, viability and evolution. Bateson viewed comparing one species against another in a struggle for survival as insane. He likened our Western worldview of survival through competition as ‘an ecology of bad ideas’ which breeds parasitic humans, purely self-centred and destructive of their host.
The more we understand Nature (as ancient and indigenous minds have long since recognized) the more we realize that nothing is totally separate from anything else, rather everything is in dynamic interplay with everything else, what plays out through one relationship impacts the wider matrix. Nature, operating within restraints, creates limitless varieties – from thresholds comes creativity, from restrictions comes diversity. There is an inherent wisdom within Nature which yesterday’s logic incorrectly abstracts. The more we open ourselves up to our inner nature, our local neighborhood and the wider natural world around us the more we become truly sustainable.
The ‘New Paradigm’ is actually ancient, yet flowing with fresh spontaneity. The answers to our pressing challenges are all around and within us – inspiration and harmonization within Nature. Biomimicry, regenerative and circular economies, industrial ecology and so forth all take inspiration from Nature. And yet the deeper wisdom of Nature lies beyond the severing scalpel and mathematising mind. It is permeating deep within every one of us and throughout all life.
The quality of our intention and attention to life is what determines our ability to attune with this inherent wisdom, this Sophia in our midst.
This attunement of our bodymind within the wisdom of Nature can be developed and enhanced through contemporary eco-psychological practices, along with the ancient practices of yoga, T’ai Chi, Qi Qong, dance, expressive arts therapy, mandalas and mantras – all forms of embodiment work that focus on enhancing our somatic-social-soulful awareness.
To attune with Nature is our sacred gift. This is the Nature which Shakespeare speaks of –
‘Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law my services are bound.’
And the Nature of Confucius some five centuries before Christ –
‘He who is harmony with Nature hits the mark without effort and apprehends the truth without thinking.’
It is time to transform our way of attending to life beyond yesterday’s logic whereupon we see more clearly the way of Nature, re-membering who we truly are within this diverse community of inter-relating subjects.
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What our world needs right now is an awakening of our humanity .
If we are honest with ourselves we spend a large part of our waking lives half asleep, largely unconscious or unaware of reality as it really is, seeing only illusory fragments, narrowed-down perspectives through mind-sets clouded with fears, anxieties, distractions, judgements, habituations and ruminations. If we were to really perceive life through all of our brains, bodies, hearts and souls, we would be in love with this awesome experience and attend to our relationships (strangers, friends, lovers and more-than-human kinship) in quite different more enlivened ways. This in turn would influence how we relate with the world in general and how we perceive ‘others’ such as immigrants or different creeds. We would activate a shift in our attention: one of care rather than control, of empathy rather than envy, fear and competition.
To fall in love with our life experiences – whether it is the small things, the routine activities or the breath-taking inspirations – is to make our escape from a warped worldview: a matrix of perception ingrained into us at partly unconscious levels.
Our worldview is acculturated in us – a deluding neurosis with devastating ramifications for human society and the wider fabric of life on Earth. And, our ingrained approaches to education, economics and organisational management are, in the main, infected by this neurosis and so exacerbating the acculturation of our insanity – what Albert Hoffman called a ‘Western entelechy neurosis’ and what Albert Einstein called ‘an optical delusion of consciousness’.
Yet each of us have the natural capacity to see beyond this delusion, regardless of our bank balance, job, upbringing or age. Through the quality of our attention and our conscious intention, we can break free from the matrix of our own making. We are our own jail makers and jail breakers.
‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds’ Bob Marley, Redemption Song
In these challenging yet pivotal times for humanity we need all the assistance we can muster to help inspire this shift in awareness. Positive News in the UK provides just this by sharing front-line stories of ordinary people transcending fear with courage and selfishness with service.
In a world littered with debasing, oppositional, fear-filled news and twisted misrepresentations, this type of honest, humane and constructive journalism is rare; a sad reflection of how inured we have become in the illusion, and take it as quite normal, no longer able to sense the insanity so anesthetized we have become.
Positive News is free from the insidious commercialisation and political motives plaguing our newspapers, journals and magazines today. It takes a stand for what is right.
Positive News needs you and me to help support its co-operative venture so that it can continue to shine a light on the inspiring, constructive stories of ordinary people doing courageous things to make change happen in society.
Here is how you can help contribute to this front line action
It’s time to stand up for what we know in our hearts is right and move away from what we inherently know is undermining our very humanity. It’s time to live up to who we truly are.
Why Positive News?? This short youtube clip explains.
The sharing of inspiring, enlivening stories of people awakening our humanity is instrumental to this transformation in our midst. Are you a part of this? To become a co-owner please invest here.
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